Therefore, it follows that Mr. Borreca’s personal opposition to rail (read his columns for confirmation) synchs nicely with anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater, who continues to belittle rail for failing to do the impossible – reduce congestion. Don’t build it if it can’t do that, he argues.
See how it works? If anti-railers like Mr. Slater – and now mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano -- repeat their bizarre argument often enough, even presumably objective newspaper columnists and opinion leaders can and do fall under their spell. (There’s a remarkable juxtaposition of the anti-railer and the columnist in Hawaii News Now's survey story.)
That’s what Messrs. Cayetano and Slater are counting on, and judging from the newspaper’s ill-timed public opinion poll, it’s working. The paper commissioned a polling company to conduct a survey on rail within two weeks of Mr. Cayetano’s official entry into the mayoral race. Broadcast, print and online media prominently carried his anti-rail rhetoric while providing virtually no balance from rail proponents.
Goal: Improve corridor mobility. The FEIS says, “Given current and increasing levels of congestion, an alternative method of travel is needed within the study corridor independent of current and projected highway congestion.” Rail is that method.
Goal: Improve corridor travel reliability. Says the FEIS: “This lack of predictability is inefficient and results in lost productivity or free time. A need exists to provide more reliable transit services.” Rail is that service.
Goal: Improve transportation equity. The FEIS defines this equity as “the fair distribution of resources so that no group carries an unfair burden of the negative environment, social, or economic impacts or receives an unfair share of benefits.” With 21 stations along the route and easy access by foot, bus or car, rail will deliver that equity.
And finally, this Goal: Improve access to planned development to support City policy to develop a second urban center. The City’s General Plan for decades has called for the vast majority of Oahu’s population growth to occur in west Oahu – most of it on the ewa plain – and some of it in Central Oahu. The Plan also stipulates that growth should not occur in East Honolulu, along the Windward Side or on the North Shore.
We can write today without fear of contradiction that the federal lawsuit plaintiffs who want to kill rail, including mayoral candidate Cayetano and Mr. Slater, have never told Oahu residents this key rationale for building rail – to relieve pressure to build housing throughout the island.
And because this key goal is virtually unknown among the general public, residents of East Honolulu, Windward Oahu and the North Shore who told the Star-Advertiser’s opinion research survey they oppose rail are encouraging growth in their neighborhoods with their opposition.
So they ask, why won’t you support what WE want and need? It’s a good question. People living far from the west end often answer it by citing the cost of building and maintaining rail and the potential for rail’s elevated structure to block view planes.
Those are not insignificant issues, but do they overwhelm the reasons to build the project? Commuters who spend needless hours on the road each day because of ever-increasing congestion don’t think so. They respond directly to that challenge, as the person did who commented on a letter to the editor on Saturday:
Call it an unintended consequence of opposing Honolulu rail.
Mr. Cayetano’s lead among the 549 Oahu residents polled in the survey over Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Managing Director Kirk Caldwell – they received 44, 35 and 16 percent respectively – serves as a wake-up call for the two trailing candidates, whose campaigns have yet to begin.
That also means Mr. Cayetano’s perspective on rail has yet to be confronted by his opponents. His demonstrable lack of depth on transportation issues hasn’t had to withstand the glare of TV lights and other publicity generated by his two pro-rail opponents, both of whom have a stronger grasp of the island’s transportation needs than the former governor, who left public life a decade ago.
Above all, the S-A’s candidate poll is not believable for the same reason we criticized it yesterday. The survey was conducted within two weeks of Mr. Cayetano’s entry into the mayoral race, when his views were receiving unusual amounts of media coverage without challenge from his opponents or the media, for that matter.
The survey’s “all about Ben” results made the talk show host positively giddy this morning. He should make merry while he may; the feeling's not destined to last.